Call to Action # 8

We call upon the federal government to eliminate the discrepancy in federal education funding for First Nations children being educated on reserves and those First Nations children being educated off reserves.

Why “Stalled”?

The official government website “Delivering on Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action” as of Mar. 11, 2022 still does not directly address education funding for Indigenous students who are off-reserve other than a minimum amount allocated in Budget 2018.

Budget 2021 invests $1,188M over 5 years with $181.8M ongoing funding across three priority areas: COVID-19 support, funding mechanisms and First Nations control over education and adult education. 

Only 69% of the $2.6B in Budget 2016 of funding dedicated specifically to Primary and Secondary schools is available from 2016 through 2019. Budget 2018 applied a distinctions-based approach to the $2B funding including for urban/non-affiliated streams:

  • $1.1 billion over five years, and $235.7 million per year ongoing, for a First Nations stream
  • $325 million over five years, and $67 million per year ongoing, for a Métis Nation stream 
  • $161.2 million over five years, and $32.6 million per year ongoing, for an Inuit stream 
  • $213.4 million over five years, and $45.2 million per year ongoing, for an urban/non-affiliated stream

The budget allocations for post-secondary student support, however, ($815M in Budget 2019 (5 years for First Nations and 10 years for Métis and Inuit plus an additional $61.8M per year after for the Métis and Inuit) is actually LESS than the previous budget allocations for 2017 and 2018 of $90M per year. The Budget 2021 funding of $150.6M over two years ($75.3M/yr) is alos LESS.

Jan. 21, 2019 – The Government of Canada and the AFN announce new policy and funding approach for First Nations K-12 education on reserve to take effect as of April 1, 2019 to support First Nations control of First Nations education, and ensures more predictable and sufficient funding.

Current Status

July 5, 2022


Previous Status

May 14, 2022


Latest Updates

Actions and Commitments

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Federal Education Statistics: 2016-2017

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Federal Govt K-12 FN Budgets: 2013 vs 2017

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Federal Budgets for First Nations Education

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Federal Spending on First Nations Reserves

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Background Content

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AFN Resolutions for Education Reform

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Inuit Education Funding Position

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New Policy and Funding Approach for FN

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Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

To help address the education attainment gap, the Government of Canada has made significant investments, totaling $2.6 billion over 5 years for primary and secondary education on reserve. This includes funding to address immediate needs and to keep pace with cost growth over the medium term, as well as investments in language and cultural programming and literacy and numeracy.

The Government of Canada has worked closely with various First Nations partners to implement an inclusive and comprehensive engagement process on First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 education on reserve, including investing $3.6 million to support community-level discussions. The engagements were led by First Nations organizations and provided community members with the opportunity to share their views on how to improve First Nations student success.

On January 21, 2019, a new co-developed policy and improved funding approach to better support the needs of First Nations students on-reserve was announced. As of April 1, 2019, the new funding approach:

  • replaces outdated proposal-based programs with improved access to predictable core funding
  • ensures base funding is comparable to provincial systems across the country while working towards additional funding agreements based on need to better account for factors such as remoteness, school size, language, and socio-economic conditions
  • provides First Nations schools with $1,500 per student, per year, to support language and culture programming
  • provides new resources which will support full-time kindergarten in every First Nations school for children aged 4 and 5
  • ensures special education funding is more predictable, with fewer application-based requirements